Friends of the victims in a tragic accident at a Okfuskee County trail ride are speaking out, hoping to save others from the same fate.
A 15-year old girl and her adult chaperone were found dead this weekend after a generator filled the sleeping quarters of their horse trailer with carbon monoxide. The two were in Okemah for an annual trail ride.
News on 6 reporter Heather Lewin says it was the kind of thing Leonard McLaughlin lived for. Known as 'Buckin' Buddy' for his love of a particular horse no one else would ride, McLaughlin and a riding pupil, Robyn Johnson were at an annual club trail ride.
With horses safely stowed in a trailer, the two went to sleep inside and never woke up. â€œIt's one of those things that you never think is gonna happen to you, and you never think it's gonna happen to your friends or your family." Greg Stromme's known McLaughlin for years, he says Buddy was the one everyone went to if they had a question about horses.
No one ever thought he'd have to worry about the dangers of carbon monoxide. The two were staying in a sleeping compartment with separate areas. The generator was kept far in the back, but still enough of the deadly gas seeped in.
Friends say they only wish the trailer had been equipped with a carbon monoxide detector, that could have saved their lives. Friends say Buddy and his wife Michelle are best known in riding circles for helping kids who can't afford horses of their own. Active in the pole bending club, the two even spent their honeymoon at the world's largest amateur rodeo. "I think it was so special to him, cause he grew up as a young kid riding and helping other people and he just continued to do that throughout his life."
Robyn was like the daughter the couple never had. â€œThe most amazing thing I would say about Robyn is she always had a smile on her face and a good thing to say about everybody around her." He says there is some risk in the horse world, but he never imagined something like this. "People might get bucked off or thrown off, but nobody expects for something tragic like that to happen."
Friends say Buddy McLaughlin did leave the trailer's windows open with the generator running, they say investigators told them the rain and heavy moisture in the air held enough of the gas in to be fatal.
The Oklahoma Pole Bending Association set up fund to help the families.Donations can be made at any Spirit Bank.